I will never stop grieving you, my son. I don’t know what thirteen looks like with you but I imagine it would be pretty sweet. And loud. And there may be some eye rolls and discussions. Some hugs and some jokes. Some hard things and some fun things.
That was five, too. The parts I remember of life with you, the sweet and the hard. The fast and the slow. The hard and the good. Your voice. Your raspy, soft voice. You eyes when they glowed. I’m certain you wouldn’t have lost that twinkle, that wink. Although it’s quite possible you wouldn’t have used it with me as much.
What I wouldn’t give to have fights over girls and awkward moments and hard conversations and proud boasts about your kindness and love for those around you. I imagine all the good and remind myself of all the hard until I remember reality. And reality is…you were five when the Lord called you home. Home. Home. You’ve arrived. You’re there. You have nothing left to lament, to long for here. This is the end and yet so much the beginning for me. The beginning of grief and deep sorrow like I’d never known before. The beginning of a cycle of emotions I never knew existed. Of pain darker and deeper than words could explain.
And it doesn’t end…until I’m Home.
This lament. This August. This seven-year sorrow. This is grief. This is my life. Even with the bitter I’ve learned that can be sweet. There is both joy and sadness. Both laughter and tears. Both. Both, and. How can we as humans have such complex emotions that we have yet to even comprehend? Death is forever yet death is not the end. The thoughts run deep and the memories fade. Romanticized, after death, his life. And then I remember the normalcy that was, his fits and fears, his laughter and tears, his prayers, his questions, his quiet stubbornness.
My silence. My tears. My quiet stubbornness. In grief and in life, I will not heal. I, bull-headed, trudge along as if I’m whole and well and push away the sting of death. But it’s a lie. All a lie. I am sad. I am grieving. I am full of sorrow and sadness and memories, both harsh and sweet. How can I long for his voice and miss those days, yet be fully, fully present here? Miss the past and hope for the future? Satisfied, the fight to be content here, right now in the present even without, without you, my Thao. How can I feel these terrible, joyful, wonderful, painful things? Without you here, long for you still, but what is now could never have been without you gone, or with you here? And I cannot understand this pain and sorrow and joy and bliss. And guilt.
Is it wrong to love this life, the here and now? Is it wrong to find contentment, joy, happiness again? Is it love to hope for heaven? How can I both, hope and long for the future, yet love fully this beautiful life I am given? I am fully present and fully hopeful and fully grieving. I am a mom to him and to his siblings, both known and unknown to him. I am complex, simply grieving, simply loving, simply living.
I am all across the board, both high and low. Both okay and not okay, and honestly, I’m okay with not being okay. Moments come and go, one day at time. I think of him being with me less and less. What would a five year old Thao grow into? I feel as if I don’t know him now…but is this true? Does this matter? What does that even mean? To know him now? Because my earthly mind can only comprehend time moving on and children growing up and parents growing old and things changing. Yet he is in the very place where time does not tie us down, where perfection reigns and truth prevails and only good, only beauty, only joyful emotions live. Maybe there is pain-free longing? If so, I hope he longs for me each day as I long for him. But the agony of this wait? I am so thankful he is free from it. He only knows good now and I cannot comprehend a life without this sorrow. At the top of my thankful list is this, he has no more pain, no more suffering, no more sorrow or hunger or agony or angst or unanswered questions. HIs body no longer fails him and he is whole. He is with his Creator. He knows love. And he waits for me, a painless waiting. And there will be a day I not longer wait. My mind still plays tricks on me at times, this grief is a funny thing. I still hear his five-year-old voice. I still feel the hole. Often I still feel as though I’m missing one when we get into the car. None of this makes sense to my logical mind, but I cannot tell my heart such things. In my heart, I will always long for him. And someday that heart will be healed and the longing will be no more and time will no longer be of value to me.
Until that day, I will allow myself space and slowness, simple and complex, bitter and sweet, joy and sorrow. I will allow myself tears and laughter and love with abandon. I will say his name and tell the same old stories so I won’t forget. I will miss him. Always.
Happy Birthday, my sweet Thao. Although I will never get over the agony of losing you, I will always celebrate what we once had. A life of adventure and joy and surprise, a full five years of loving you.